Video Lessons on the “four pillars” of the Catechism
Acts 6: 1-7
The appointment of the seven
FIRST READING—As the Christian community grows in numbers, there is conflict around the care for poor widows. It seems that Greek-speaking Jewish widows do not receive the same care as widows living in Jerusalem. This has also caused a problem for the Apostles. In caring for the widows, time set aside for the preaching of the word has been curtailed.
The Apostles resolve both problems by having Greek-speaking Jews select seven men to take over the ministry of caring for the widows. The Apostles lay hands on the chosen seven and pray over them. And thus begins a new ordained ministry in the church—the diaconate. It has been well said that “necessity is the mother of invention.”
The reading also underlines how the first leaders of the church come to realize that true Gospel living involves caring for the poor.
©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.
It is a time of fulfillment as the Church, in the first apostolic act of the Magisterium (St. Peter and the Apostles), appoints deacons to assist in works of mercy for the Jerusalem community (the First Reading).
Ps 33:1-2, 4-5, 18-19
Lord, let your mercy be on us, as we place our trust in you
RESPONSORIAL PSALM—This psalm applauds God’s fidelity.
In the Responsorial Psalm, the psalmist invites us to join in a hymn of praise to God, who created the universe. The psalmist assures us when we place our faith and trust in God and show Him reverence, He will dispose His mercy to those of us who seek His gracious help.
1 Peter 2:4-9
God’s house and people
SECOND READING—The author tells his readers that their high standing in God’s eyes more than compensates for their low standing in the eyes of society. These ‘resident aliens’ may be rejected by the world but they are precious in God’s eyes. These ‘nobodies’ are a “chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a people God claims as his own.” The author is saying to a people who may be feeling that they do not belong, that they very much belong to God. The reading reminds those who are homeless that they have a home in God.
A ‘stumbling block’ (Isaiah 8:4) seeks to convey notions of strength and challenge in adversity. The reference to “the rejected stone becoming the cornerstone” (Ps 118:2) explains how Israel was considered insignificant by the empires over the centuries. The Christians in hostile Asia-Minor will be a ‘stumbling block’ and a ‘rejected stone’ in their environment. Recall that Peter is writing to a community living in an unbelieving and often hostile environment.
©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.
The Church is the spiritual house built on the “cornerstone” of Jesus Christ, our eternal High Priest, and we are His “living stones” that form the structure of His Kingdom of the Church (Second Reading).
Jesus as the way, truth and life
GOSPEL— The setting for this Gospel is Jesus’s last meal with his disciples during which he speaks about going away to his Father. Jesus assures his disciples that he will not abandon them. Though he will be physically absent from them, he will remain with them in a new way.
At this time, neither Thomas nor Phillip understands the new way that Jesus is talking about. In response to Thomas, Jesus says he is the Way, the Truth and the Life.
Jesus is the Way by which we travel to the fullness of God. United to Jesus, we enter into the life of God. Jesus—as the Way—includes the Way of the Cross.
Jesus is the Truth. He not only speaks the truth, but the fullness of truth resides in him alone. The Truth which Jesus offers is not ‘catechism truth’ or some system of thought. Rather, it is a person. Jesus reveals to us the true nature of God and the truth about humanity.
Jesus is the Life. Our life is totally wrapped up with Jesus through Baptism and the Eucharist. “In him, we live, move, and have our being” (Acts 17:28).
Philip’s question gives Jesus the opportunity to speak about the closeness and intimacy that exist between him and the Father. The intimacy is so close that to see Jesus is to see the Father, and to ‘know’ Jesus is to experience the Father.
©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.
In the Gospel Reading, from Jesus’ last discourse on the night of the Last Supper, He announces that He is “the Way” to the Father. The Old Covenant prophets, priests, and kings of Israel/Judah, as God’s anointed representatives, were responsible for showing “the way” the people of God must follow to continue in fellowship with Yahweh. Jesus, God’s New Covenant mediator, redefines “the way” in Himself. He is the only path to salvation and eternal life, and “now” is the time of fulfillment.
1. Turn to the person next to you and share what word/s or image/s in the readings caught your attention. Did they comfort or challenge you or touch you in some way? Which part of the Passion story speaks to you most this year? Why?
2. In the first reading, Peter’s congregation is “cut to the heart” as they hear him preach. Has this kind of conviction or spiritual awakening ever happened to you as a result of a homily or as a result of some other event in your life?
3. What are forms of slavery (second reading) in our world today? What if anything, can we do to oppose slavery?
4. What are traits of a good shepherd? How can you be a good shepherd to others?5. Name one thing today’s Gospel says to us that we disciples of Jesus need to heed and act on.
©2020 Fr. Eamon Tobin. All Rights Reserved. Used with permission.
Questions for Discussion
1. Do you have any sense that you know who God is? How have you come to this knowledge? Was it something you were born with? Who helped you acquire this experience? In what way do you know God better for knowing Jesus better? How can you get to know Jesus better?
2. How would you respond to a person who says he believes only what he can see and touch? Are the five senses the only avenues for knowledge? Things like love and honor and goodness cannot be seen or touched, yet they surely exist, don’t they?
3. Discuss the meaning of the words chosen race, royal priesthood in the passage from the Letter of Peter. Do you have a sense that these words do apply to you, to the Church community? What difference does it make when we believe in those truths?
© 2017Rev. Clement D. Thibodeau. All rights reserved. Used with permission.
Call to Action
Be aware of the things that worry and upset you. Try to do a better job of dealing with worry.
Jesus, you are my Way, my Truth and my Life. Help me to live accordingly and not allow other things and persons to take priority over me.
Jesus,You are the Way, the Truth and the Life.Help us daily to be a little more aware of this great belief.Thank you preparing a permanent place for us in Heaven. Amen.
Video by Larry Broding. Visit Word-Sunday.com website for detailed commentary and other resources regarding the readings for this Sunday.
EXCERPT — We are reminded today that spreading the word about Christ did not go smoothly in the early church. Understanding and accepting Jesus was a slow and often unsuccessful process. It may seem different now, but if we consider our own questions and struggles with faith, we realize that our commitment is not formed overnight. It is often subject to life circumstances that challenge our faith. There is still work to be done in spreading the good news. If we want to contribute to the effort, we might begin with ourselves.PENITENTIAL ACT
|Lord Jesus, you called your disciples to have faith in you: Lord, have mercy.||Christ Jesus, you said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life”: Christ, have mercy.||Lord Jesus, you have gone to prepare a place for us: Lord, have mercy.|
NCR SUNDAY RESOURCES – Joan DeMerchant
EXCERPT – We should expect to encounter God in the midst of our work, and we should work in such a way that it is obvious to others that we are followers of Christ. After all, if we appear the same as everyone else in our day to day activities, if our faith does not some how set us apart, it is questionable how real our faith is. So wherever we work, whether it is in an office, whether our work now is going to school, whether our work is caring for a home or driving a truck or working on an assembly line or in a bank, whatever job we have, we need to work in such a way that it manifests that we are followers of Jesus.
RELATED HOMILIES BY FR. SIGMA: Pope Benedict in the USA, The Coffin
BUILDING ON THE WORD – Fr. George Sigma
EXCERPT – We cannot separate the humanity of Jesus from the divinity of Christ. Although the New Testament shows a certain progression in its assertions concerning the divine nature of Christ, there wasn’t a time in his life when Jesus was not truly and fully the Son of God. In our human way of speaking, we can say that Mary is the Mother of God because she cannot be the mother only of one part of who Jesus is. In the Catholic tradition, dating back to the Council of Ephesus (431 CE), the Church has called Mary the “Mother of God,”not to define who Mary isbut to assert the fullness of the divine nature of Jesus. One way to proclaim that Jesus possesses the fullness of the divine nature in addition to the human nature is to say: “Mary gave birth to God!”
Echoing God’s WordS – Rev. Clement D. Thimbodeau (1932-2017)
EXCERPT – Once that belief becomes a reality in one’s heart, a true relationship is established between the believer and Jesus. Now one can approach Jesus in faith, and not demand a sign. Now all that remains is to carry on the work of Jesus, but in the power of the Holy Spirit, not our own power. Precisely what is it that makes a believer’s works “greater” than those of Jesus? As Fr. Francis Mooney says, the greatness comes from the very fact of his absence! Jesus is still present – in his absence! And as the number of members of the believing Body of Christ increase, the works of Jesus increase proportionately, because now he can spread his word and works of love through millions of believers!
EXCERPT — The long conversation (Jn 13:1 to 17:26) between Jesus and his disciples at the last supper, on the eve of his apprehension and death, is the Testament he left us. In it Jesus expresses his last desire concerning life in community for his disciples. It was a friendly conversation, which the Disciple remembered well. The Evangelist wishes to convey that Jesus desired to prolong to the utmost that final meeting of friends, a moment of great intimacy. The same happens today. There are various kinds of conversations. There is the superficial conversation that leaves everything up in the air and reveals emptiness in the persons involved. Then there is the deep conversation that touches the heart. All of us, at some time, experience these moments of friendly sharing which expand our hearts and strengthen us in times of difficulty. This kind of conversation helps us to grow in trust and to overcome fear. These five chapters (Jn 13 to 17) are also an example of the way the communities of the Beloved Disciple catechised. The questions of the three disciples, Thomas (Jn 14:5), Philip (Jn 14:8) and Judas Thaddaeus (Jn 14:22), were also the questions of the communities of the late first century. Jesus’ replies to the three were like a mirror where the communities found an answer to their doubts and difficulties. Thus, chapter 14 was (and still is) a catechesis that teaches the communities how to live without the physical presence of Jesus.
THE ORDER OF CARMELITES – Lectio Divina: Sundays of Lent
EXCERPT — “Let nothing disturb you, let nothing frighten you. Those who know God have everything. Only God is enough.” St. Teresa of Avila wrote that and kept it in her prayer book. Who knows when she wrote it or how often she prayed it. Surely, she prayed it as an act of faith during the years when she was rejected by her own community, exiled and forced to live in obscurity. Did she share it with her dear friend, St. John of the Cross, when he was tried by the Inquisition and imprisoned for implementing her teachings about reform?…Teresa’s prayer was an adaptation of Jesus’ invitation to the disciples: “Do not let your hearts be troubled.”
NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER – Mary M. McGlone, CSJ
EXCERPT — One excellent model of that call to faith and service is celebrated one day before this Sunday. May 9 is the feast of St. Louise de Marillac, who devoted her life to the care of others, especially people who were poor, sick and most vulnerable, caring for them in their homes and in hospitals. St. Louise imitated Christ through her works. Likewise, she wisely realized that service needed to go beyond her life. She organized women in her community, co-founding the Daughters of Charity with St. Vincent de Paul. Today, these women continue St. Louise’s legacy and mission by serving worldwide, providing care to people with various challenges, including sick and aging populations, migrants, people with disabilities and addictions and people living in poverty. Today’s readings inspire us to live selflessly and look for models like St. Louise to inspire our faith and work.
AMERICA MAGAZINE – Jamie Waters
EXCERPT — If there are problems with our preaching, it is not only that we are too busy doing other things—although administrative duties can consume a pastor in any parish. A far bigger problem is this: even the best of homilies can be sloughed off because it is tied to the very nature of the presiding office, the task, the business of priestcraft. A significant charism of deacons in the contemporary church is related to the fact that most of them are married, have other places of work, have had an active career, and have no reason to give service to the church other than their faith. The work of priests, even their preaching, can be subconsciously passed off as “what they have to do.” But when a deacon visits the sick, when a mail carrier or a business person gets into the pulpit, something else is going on. And people know this. It is not just “their job.”
SUNDAY WEB SITE – Father John Kavanaugh, SJ
THIS WEEK’S CATECHISM EXCERPTS
“By using the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the homilist can help his people integrate the word of God, the faith of the Church, the moral demands of the Gospel, and their personal and liturgical spirituality.”
From the Homiletic Directory
CCC 661, 1025-1026, 2795: Christ opens for us the way to heaven
CCC 151, 1698, 2614, 2466: believing in Jesus
CCC 1569-1571: the order of deacons
CCC 782, 803, 1141, 1174, 1269, 1322: “a chosen race, a royal priesthood”
Christ’s prayer at the Last Supper
2746 When “his hour” came, Jesus prayed to the Father.43 His prayer, the longest transmitted by the Gospel, embraces the whole economy of creation and salvation, as well as his death and Resurrection. The prayer of the Hour of Jesus always remains his own, just as his Passover “once for all” remains ever present in the liturgy of his Church.
2747 Christian Tradition rightly calls this prayer the “priestly” prayer of Jesus. It is the prayer of our high priest, inseparable from his sacrifice, from his passing over (Passover) to the Father to whom he is wholly “consecrated.”44
2748 In this Paschal and sacrificial prayer, everything is recapitulated in Christ:45 God and the world; the Word and the flesh; eternal life and time; the love that hands itself over and the sin that betrays it; the disciples present and those who will believe in him by their word; humiliation and glory. It is the prayer of unity.
2749 Jesus fulfilled the work of the Father completely; his prayer, like his sacrifice, extends until the end of time. The prayer of this hour fills the end-times and carries them toward their consummation. Jesus, the Son to whom the Father has given all things, has given himself wholly back to the Father, yet expresses himself with a sovereign freedom46 by virtue of the power the Father has given him over all flesh. The Son, who made himself Servant, is Lord, the Pantocrator. Our high priest who prays for us is also the one who prays in us and the God who hears our prayer.
2750 By entering into the holy name of the Lord Jesus we can accept, from within, the prayer he teaches us: “Our Father!” His priestly prayer fulfills, from within, the great petitions of the Lord’s Prayer: concern for the Father’s name;47 passionate zeal for his kingdom (glory);48 the accomplishment of the will of the Father, of his plan of salvation;49 and deliverance from evil.50
2751 Finally, in this prayer Jesus reveals and gives to us the “knowledge,” inseparably one, of the Father and of the Son,51 which is the very mystery of the life of prayer.
Christ opens a way for us to heaven
He ascended in heaven
661 This final stage stays closely linked to the first, that is, to his descent from heaven in the Incarnation. Only the one who “came from the Father” can return to the Father: Christ Jesus.538 “No one has ascended into heaven but he who descended from heaven, the Son of man.”539 Left to its own natural powers humanity does not have access to the “Father’s house”, to God’s life and happiness.540 Only Christ can open to man such access that we, his members, might have confidence that we too shall go where he, our Head and our Source, has preceded us.541
The sacraments of faith
1125 For this reason no sacramental rite may be modified or manipulated at the will of the minister or the community. Even the supreme authority in the Church may not change the liturgy arbitrarily, but only in the obedience of faith and with religious respect for the mystery of the liturgy.
1126 Likewise, since the sacraments express and develop the communion of faith in the Church, the lex orandi is one of the essential criteria of the dialogue that seeks to restore the unity of Christians.47
Who art in heaven
2795 The symbol of the heavens refers us back to the mystery of the covenant we are living when we pray to our Father. He is in heaven, his dwelling place; the Father’s house is our homeland. Sin has exiled us from the land of the covenant,56 but conversion of heart enables us to return to the Father, to heaven.57 In Christ, then, heaven and earth are reconciled,58 for the Son alone “descended from heaven” and causes us to ascend there with him, by his Cross, Resurrection, and Ascension.59
Believing in Jesus
To believe in Jesus Christ, the Son of God
151 For a Christian, believing in God cannot be separated from believing in the One he sent, his “beloved Son”, in whom the Father is “well pleased”; God tells us to listen to him.18 The Lord himself said to his disciples: “Believe in God, believe also in me.”19 We can believe in Jesus Christ because he is himself God, the Word made flesh: “No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.”20 Because he “has seen the Father”, Jesus Christ is the only one who knows him and can reveal him.21
Life in Christ
1698 The first and last point of reference of this catechesis will always be Jesus Christ himself, who is “the way, and the truth, and the life.”24 It is by looking to him in faith that Christ’s faithful can hope that he himself fulfills his promises in them, and that, by loving him with the same love with which he has loved them, they may perform works in keeping with their dignity:
- I ask you to consider that our Lord Jesus Christ is your true head, and that you are one of his members. He belongs to you as the head belongs to its members; all that is his is yours: his spirit, his heart, his body and soul, and all his faculties. You must make use of all these as of your own, to serve, praise, love, and glorify God. You belong to him, as members belong to their head. And so he longs for you to use all that is in you, as if it were his own, for the service and glory of the Father.25For to me, to live is Christ.26
Jesus teaches us how to pray
2614 When Jesus openly entrusts to his disciples the mystery of prayer to the Father, he reveals to them what their prayer and ours must be, once he has returned to the Father in his glorified humanity. What is new is to “ask in his name.”78 Faith in the Son introduces the disciples into the knowledge of the Father, because Jesus is “the way, and the truth, and the life.”79 Faith bears its fruit in love: it means keeping the word and the commandments of Jesus, it means abiding with him in the Father who, in him, so loves us that he abides with us. In this new covenant the certitude that our petitions will be heard is founded on the prayer of Jesus.80
Living in the truth
2465 The Old Testament attests that God is the source of all truth. His Word is truth. His Law is truth. His “faithfulness endures to all generations.”255 Since God is “true,” the members of his people are called to live in the truth.256
2466 In Jesus Christ, the whole of God’s truth has been made manifest. “Full of grace and truth,” he came as the “light of the world,” he is the Truth.257 “Whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.”258 The disciple of Jesus continues in his word so as to know “the truth [that] will make you free” and that sanctifies.259 To follow Jesus is to live in “the Spirit of truth,” whom the Father sends in his name and who leads “into all the truth.”260 To his disciples Jesus teaches the unconditional love of truth: “Let what you say be simply ‘Yes or No.'”261
The order of deacons
1569 “At a lower level of the hierarchy are to be found deacons, who receive the imposition of hands ‘not unto the priesthood, but unto the ministry.”‘53 At an ordination to the diaconate only the bishop lays hands on the candidate, thus signifying the deacon’s special attachment to the bishop in the tasks of his “diakonia.”54
1570 Deacons share in Christ’s mission and grace in a special way.55 The sacrament of Holy Orders marks them with an imprint (“character”) which cannot be removed and which configures them to Christ, who made himself the “deacon” or servant of all.56 Among other tasks, it is the task of deacons to assist the bishop and priests in the celebration of the divine mysteries, above all the Eucharist, in the distribution of Holy Communion, in assisting at and blessing marriages, in the proclamation of the Gospel and preaching, in presiding over funerals, and in dedicating themselves to the various ministries of charity.57
1571 Since the Second Vatican Council the Latin Church has restored the diaconate “as a proper and permanent rank of the hierarchy,”58 while the Churches of the East had always maintained it. This permanent diaconate, which can be conferred on married men, constitutes an important enrichment for the Church’s mission. Indeed it is appropriate and useful that men who carry out a truly diaconal ministry in the Church, whether in its liturgical and pastoral life or whether in its social and charitable works, should “be strengthened by the imposition of hands which has come down from the apostles. They would be more closely bound to the altar and their ministry would be made more fruitful through the sacramental grace of the diaconate.”59
A chosen race, a royal priesthood
Characteristics of the people of God
782 The People of God is marked by characteristics that clearly distinguish it from all other religious, ethnic, political, or cultural groups found in history:
– It is the People of God: God is not the property of any one people. But he acquired a people for himself from those who previously were not a people: “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.”202
– One becomes a member of this people not by a physical birth, but by being “born anew,” a birth “of water and the Spirit,”203 that is, by faith in Christ, and Baptism.
– This People has for its Head Jesus the Christ (the anointed, the Messiah). Because the same anointing, the Holy Spirit, flows from the head into the body, this is “the messianic people.”
– “The status of this people is that of the dignity and freedom of the sons of God, in whose hearts the Holy Spirit dwells as in a temple.”
– “Its law is the new commandment to love as Christ loved us.”204 This is the “new” law of the Holy Spirit.205
– Its mission is to be salt of the earth and light of the world.206 This people is “a most sure seed of unity, hope, and salvation for the whole human race.”
– Its destiny, finally, “is the Kingdom of God which has been begun by God himself on earth and which must be further extended until it has been brought to perfection by him at the end of time.”207
The celebrants of the sacramental liturgy
1141 The celebrating assembly is the community of the baptized who, “by regeneration and the anointing of the Holy Spirit, are consecrated to be a spiritual house and a holy priesthood, that through all the works of Christian men they may offer spiritual sacrifices.”9 This “common priesthood” is that of Christ the sole priest, in which all his members participate:10
- Mother Church earnestly desires that all the faithful should be led to that full, conscious, and active participation in liturgical celebrations which is demanded by the very nature of the liturgy, and to which the Christian people, “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a redeemed people,” have a right and an obligation by reason of their Baptism.11
The Liturgy of the Hours
1174 The mystery of Christ, his Incarnation and Passover, which we celebrate in the Eucharist especially at the Sunday assembly, permeates and transfigures the time of each day, through the celebration of the Liturgy of the Hours, “the divine office.”46 This celebration, faithful to the apostolic exhortations to “pray constantly,” is “so devised that the whole course of the day and night is made holy by the praise of God.”47 In this “public prayer of the Church,”48 the faithful (clergy, religious, and lay people) exercise the royal priesthood of the baptized. Celebrated in “the form approved” by the Church, the Liturgy of the Hours “is truly the voice of the Bride herself addressed to her Bridegroom. It is the very prayer which Christ himself together with his Body addresses to the Father.49